HE WAS BORN Shawn Carter, he became Jay-Z, and the 43-year-old rapper and industrialist has become one of the most unlikely success stories in an American landscape littered with them.By day he is a pinstriped, sweet-talking entrepreneur, cutting deals with corporate America; by night he is a profane, misogynistic hip-hop mogul, glorifying violence against that same America. He boldly steps between Main Street and the mean streets with ease and abandon.President Obama celebrates Jay-Z and elicits his support, yet it is difficult to believe POTUS the parent would ever want his adolescent daughters exposed to Jay-Z's serial characterization of women as "bitches" and "hos."In Jay-Z's "Is That Yo Bitch?", it begins: "Uh, you don't get mad at me/I don't love 'em I f- 'em/I don't chase 'em I duck 'em/I replace 'em with another one." In "99 Problems," he croons: "I got 99 problems but a bitch ain't one." In "Dirt Off Your Shoulder," he gives a "middle finger to the law."
And that's the printable stuff.(The unprintable stuff is so unprintable, it should only be printed in invisible ink.)His discography is a roadmap to racism, sexism and mayhem.Yet despite a lyrical rap sheet longer than Rapunzel's hair, it does not interfere with Jay-Z's astounding marketeering. He has sold 50 million albums worldwide, with 17 Grammy awards, but his business dealings far eclipse his artistic accomplishments.Co-founder of Roc-a-Fella Records, founder of Roc Nation entertainment company, co-owner of the 40/40 Club sports bars and lounge, minority owner of the NBA's Brooklyn Nets, Jay-Z's net worth is estimated at nearly $500 million,He also is a burgeoning real estate developer, an investor in Carol's Daughter line of beauty products, a creative director for Budweiser Select, co-creator of the clothing label Rocawear and executive producer of the basketball video game "NBA 2K13."As Jay-Z famously once said, "I'm not a businessman; I'm a business, man."(FYI: Let's not forget Jay-Z is married to Beyonce, perhaps the shrewdest business deal he's ever closed.)And, now, partnered with Hollywood heavyweight Creative Artists Agency - I can't get lunch with those guys unless I'm delivering it; Jay-Z, meanwhile, struts in and they shower him in ahi tuna and sparkling water - he's launched his own sports agency, Roc Nation Sports.Among Jay-Z's first clients: MLB's Robinson Cano, the NBA's Kevin Durant, the NFL's Geno Smith and the WNBA's Skylar Diggins.Scott Boras, move over; Jay-Z's got a bigger ride.
I don't care that Jay-Z once was a drug dealer and, after finding musical success, pled guilty to a misdemeanor for an incident in which he allegedly stabbed a record executive. I don't begrudge him his rap-to-riches glory. What I do wonder about is how a fellow can build a far-flung business empire on the heels of creating a legacy of destructive lyrics.Sure, as my sage wife Toni points out - in addition to his music being brilliant - Jay-Z is speaking to disenfranchised, young black men victimized by racism, police abuse and a culturally entrenched system that devalues them daily. That doesn't change the fact that his answer often is violence and turmoil, his message is to fight back with his own brand of racism and his language coarsely degrades and objectifies women.To paraphrase George Gershwin, it's nice work if you can get it, and you can get it if you try.You've got to hand it to Jay-Z - he tries.Anyway, Couch Slouch can't rap - I can barely sing "Old MacDonald Had a Farm" in the shower - but I penned something special the other day to this man who drinks holy water at dawn and highballs at dusk:He walks with a 'tude/Dude loves to be lewd/But that's in the night/By day he's quite right/ Works streets that don't meet/From downbeat to elite/He winks at the crank/Then runs to the bank/Like a fox so crazy/Guys and dolls, it's Jay-Z.
Ask The SlouchQ. As Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals went on, if it reached 7 a.m. ET, were you worried that NBC would switch to the "Today" show in its entirety, then return to hockey at 10 a.m. in all time zones, like it does the Olympics and French Open? (C.J. Tompkins; Yorba Linda, Calif.)A. Pay the man, Shirley.Q. Rafael Nadal is 59-1, with eight titles, at the French Open. What, in your view, would it take for him not to collapse in apparent amazement when he wins that tournament? (Howard Walderman; Columbia, Md.)A. Pay the man, Shirley.Q. Any truth to the rumor that the National Security Agency refused to monitor calls to and from Stephen A. Smith's phone during the latest surveillance period? (John Micocci; Falls Church, Va.)A. Pay the man, Shirley.Q. If Chad Ochocinco's number in jail is 2456, will he change his last name to Dos Mil Cuatrocientos Cinquenta Y Seis? (Joe Salo; Latham, N.Y.)A. Pay the man, Shirley.You, too, can enter the $1.25 Ask The Slouch Cash Giveaway. Just e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and, if your question is used, you win $1.25 in cash!